CLSA technology analyst Ed Maguire revisits his work on leading-edge innovations in his latest piece, 2020 forces converging. He finds that computing power, global connectivity and powerful analytics are driving an inflection in progress. Technology magnifies and accelerates the divide between winners and losers, and software remains the core force shaping changes in technology, business and the economy. In this current edition, Ed also explores 20 themes with disruptive potential for industries and incumbent businesses that offer promise for investors and firms. He groups these innovations into five categories: building blocks, connectors, human technology, intelligent machines and new horizons.
Nanotech promises new paths for computing.
3D printing parts for the Strati.
The Strati, the world's first 3D-printed electric car.
We profile key innovations that are foundational in nature. Nanotech provides the avenue for a broad range of new materials with particular significance for semiconductors. As limits of Moore’s Law approach, graphene, organic transistors, 3D stacking, neurosynaptic chips and quantum computing promise new paths for computing. 3D printing came of age in 2014 and the consumer hype has faded a bit, though industrial uses are well established. Open-source development models are pervading software, hardware and new business models.
Even clever CLSA analysts are no match for IBM’s Watson.
Uber threatens disruption across industries.
In an environment of accelerating change, certain technologies play the role of connectors, acting as enabling catalysts that harness new innovations and pave the way for entrepreneurs. The convergence of advanced mathematics, access to massive computing power through peer-sharing, the open-source ethos and powerful new software gives rise to technology-based currency alternatives like Bitcoin. Advances in artificial intelligence, notably "deep learning” pervade increasingly powerful systems and applications. With ever-evolving threats in a connected world, IT security is highly dynamic, hospitable to startups and fertile ground for innovation and investment. The combination of mobile connectivity and analytics enables the rise of "sharing economy” applications like AirBnB and Uber that create value by connecting demand with idle assets while threatening disruption across industries.
Boy wearing Oculus Rift.
The virtual-reality experience is completely immersive.
Real-time translation services are increasingly becoming a reality.
Advances in natural user interfaces make controlling compute increasingly seamless, as translation services bridge language barriers close to real time; natural language understanding makes interactions more human; and motion-sensing advances control computing from the human body. Over the past three years, augmented-reality and virtual-reality technologies have captured public imagination and we are seeing viable products on the cusp of mass markets. Facebook’s Oculus VR, Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens reflect a range of approaches to the user experience that will lead to a new generation of applications and entertainment.
Robotic refueling arm at NASA.
Baxter at the Chicago Tech Show.
Robotic arm lifting dice.
There has been a dramatic increase in awareness around consumer and commercial drones, technically known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as growing availability of cheaper and more powerful systems makes the technology ever more accessible. While UAVs are a substantial market for military aerospace suppliers, it’s the consumer and commercial markets that give rise to new investment opportunities. The fundamental nature of transportation is changing as autonomous vehicles prove technological viability and sensor-based vehicle communications systems promise to ease traffic jams and improve safety. The bigger challenges lie ahead with laws, lawmakers and insurance companies. Advances in robotics are having a transformative effect on manufacturing and industry as a new wave of personal and collaborative robotics comes to market. A key thread across each category is the essential role that software and notably analytics play in enabling innovation.
NASA's next generation space telescope.
The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft.
SpaceX has proven the viability of private-sector space cargo services.
We look at several trends with profound long-term implications. Education plays a fundamental role in driving future innovations and prosperity and technology may help America’s students battle crushing student debt and close the achievement gap. Information technologies are increasingly focused on energy efficiency in pursuit of the “clean web”. The new space race is privately funded and very real, looking beyond the Moon towards mining asteroids and Martian colonies.